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Baltimore County Inspector General Releases Comprehensive Annual Report on Commission’s Guidance

Baltimore County Inspector General Releases Comprehensive Annual Report on Commission's Guidance

The Office of Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan has doubled in size and funding in the three years since it was established. Previously, only three individuals had been working in a windowless chamber in the old Towson courtroom. That’s the takeaway from Madigan’s office’s annual report for the previous fiscal year, which came out on Tuesday.

The office’s mission is to eliminate corruption and waste in county departments. Isabel Mercedes Cumming is the inspector general for Baltimore City, and there is also an inspector general for Montgomery County. According to the yearly report, Madigan’s office received 213 complaints, launched 19 investigations, and published four reports to the public.

It added an attorney, two new investigators, and two law student interns to its team to address ethics allegations. In the preceding year, 155 complaints were received, leading to 15 investigations.

“The office also addressed 164 ethics-related inquiries, processed over 300 lobbying-related compliance documents, and attained a 100% compliance rate for the over 500 financial disclosures that were filed,” Madigan said in a Tuesday news release.

The tweet below verifies the news:

Six months have passed since the Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics and Accountability, an advisory committee established by Democratic County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., submitted its final report to Madigan.

The committee, which was housed by the Schaefer Center for Public Policy at the University of Baltimore, held its first meeting in June 2022 and released its final report the following February.

Among the commission’s suggestions for keeping the Inspector General’s office free from political interference was requiring the county executive and County Council to provide detailed written explanations whenever they propose cutting or altering the office’s budget.

Olszewski proposed the establishment of a board to monitor Madigan’s office in July 2021. The Association of Inspectors General, a trade group, claimed the bill would have “gagged and shackled” Madigan’s efforts by restricting her investigative authority and opening the door to her dismissal or a cut in funding for her office.

After Democrats Cathy Bevins and Tom Quirk and current Council Chair Julian Jones attacked Madigan for her “aggressive” actions during a budget meeting, Olszewski introduced the bill that he ultimately dropped.

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For inappropriately using his email to solicit campaign donations and for going against the advice of county staff to have a county contractor pave a public alleyway at the behest of a local developer, Jones was the subject of two separate investigations by the inspector general.

Chris McCollum, a former friend of Bevins’ and his campaign treasurer, was in charge of the county Agricultural Center when it wasted more than a million dollars on a failed effort to grow food for local food banks and homeless shelters, according to information provided by Madigan’s office.

Late this month, McCollum was given a six-month prison term for stealing more than $110,000 from Governor Bevins’ reelection campaign. He will likely report to prison in September to begin serving his time.

The county’s Ethics Commission, which Madigan also chairs, was recommended to be split off from the Office of the Inspector General by the Blue Ribbon Commission. On Tuesday morning, the Olszewski administration did not immediately answer to an inquiry about when it planned to select a director for the Ethics Commission or when it planned to adopt the commission’s recommendations.

The panel also polled county workers on the “ethics climate” in their workplace. The Madigan administration has stated that they already implement and will continue to implement the commission’s recommendations because they are the best practices for inspectors general.

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